Artbox was a project to trial the painting of Traffic Signal Boxes (TSBs) on the Gold Coast, managed by Queensland Urban Ecology for the Gold Coast City Council.

Artists from the Coast and Brisbane were invited to participate. Sample intersections were painted to gauge the results and response from the public.

I painted two TSBs in 2008 collectively titled Surface Paradise. The smaller TSB is called Play and the larger Pause. Both were* located on the corner of the Gold Coast Hwy & Waterways Drv, Main Beach. Waterways Drive leads to Sea World. The polar bear images are based on my photographs of one of Sea World’s bears.

*Sadly, Google Street View shows the TSBs have now been replaced. Love to know if somebody kept them?

Click on the individual panels below to see a larger version of each image:

Surface Paradise

Shy Bear Fur Paws Watching


Leg Bubble Swim Play


The designs are a meditation about animals. We see them, they see us and we see ourselves in each other. The primal world of the animal is concerned with food, shelter, survival and also play.

I recently became aware of some extraordinary images taken by Norbert Rosing of a wild polar bear playing with a team of sled dogs. We feel a warmth of emotion when we empathise with this shared experience, an understanding or instinct for fun observed between different species.

I often paint images of the the sea but I also enjoy painting animals. Here I’m able to combine two loves. The polar bear’s scientific name is Ursus Maritimus or “Sea Bear”. Polar Bears are particularly topical as they have come to symbolise the problems of climate change. We share the earth with the animals and it’s fate also determines ours.

I’m particularly interested in texture and detail. Fur and feathers have a fluidity of form that is similar to water and paint itself.

The designs while being representational are also concerned with the formal qualities of painting.

Brush strokes made with hair move wet paint around like fur in water or feathers in air.

The play of light and colour, and fur and fluid, is beautiful. But the physicality of the bears at play also reminds us of our own embodied experience.



Painted traffic signal boxes

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